Fayette boys lose to Columbia in state championship game, 69-63

Fri, 03/07/2008 - 6:41pm
By: Kevin Wandra

FCHS' Boykin with trophy Brandon Boykin receives the runner-up trophy for the Fayette County Tigers from a GHSA official. Photo/Stan Prophitt/KidzSportsPhotography.com

What a run it was.

The greatest season in team history for the Fayette County Tigers concluded Friday with a 69-63 loss to the Columbia Eagles in the Class AAAA state championship game at the Gwinnett Arena.

Fayette was down by only two following a 3-pointer by Noel Johnson with 21.1 seconds remaining. But the Eagles didn’t allow another point the rest of the way, and they sank four free throws — two apiece by David Forrest and Darrius Morrow — in the final 20.4 seconds to end Fayette’s season.

The Tigers finished the season with a 23-10 record, the best in school history.

“This is the best season in Fayette County basketball history,” Fayette coach Andre Flynn said. “This loss can’t take anything away from us. We had a very successful season, and the guys should be proud of their success.”

Columbia focused on stopping Fayette’s leading scorer, Johnson, throughout the game, applying double-teams and making sure he couldn’t get any good looks at the basket.

Its pressure affected Johnson, who was held to two points in the first half and six through the first three quarters.

With Johnson struggling to score, Fayette needed another player to boost its offense.

That player was Cuincy Carruthers, a senior who saved the biggest game of his life for when it counted most.

Carruthers torched Columbia, which held a significant size advantage, from the perimeter, hitting a whopping six 3-pointers. All but seven of Carruthers’ game-high 25 points came on 3-pointers.

Carruthers did his part to keep Fayette in the game, but the Tigers sealed their fate at the free throw line, where they went 9-of-17.

Columbia was 17-of-29 from the free throw line.

The Eagles led by as many as 11 in the first half, working the ball inside to their big men, Kenny Mitchell, Darrius Morrow and Travis Leslie, who threw down a wide array of powerful dunks.

In addition to being down by a double-digit margin, Fayette had to deal with Johnson picking up his third foul with 1:01 left in the half.

Fayette appeared in trouble, but it went on a 10-0 run just past the midway point of the third quarter to tie the game at 43. Carruthers had five points during Fayette’s run.

The Tigers took a 51-49 lead on a free throw by Johnson and two free throws by Carruthers early in the fourth quarter.

A mid-range jumper by JerShon Cobb and back-to-back baskets by Morrow — a putback and a layup off a spin move in the lane — put Columbia back in front 56-51.

Caruthers’ sixth 3-pointer slashed Columbia’s lead to one (59-58) with 2:28 remaining. But that’s as close as the Tigers would get.

Jonson finished with 14 points, and Brandon Boykin scored nine for Fayette.

Mitchell scored 17 points, Leslie had 16 and Morrow added 15 for Columbia.

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Cal Beverly's picture
Submitted by Cal Beverly on Sat, 03/08/2008 - 8:12pm.

I've banned a poster today for continually (after being warned) revealing information about other anonymous posters -- activity that is intimidating and that violates our conditions of use.

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gratefuldoc's picture
Submitted by gratefuldoc on Sat, 03/08/2008 - 12:43pm.

Congratulations to both the Boys and Girls squads this year. They should be proud of what their accomplishments and we should all be proud of them and what they did for the whole county this year. Good job and hope to see them both back again next year.

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